Revolutionary Girl Utena (少女革命ウテナ Shōjo Kakumei Utena?) is a manga by Chiho Saito and anime directed by Kunihiko Ikuhara. The manga serial began in the June 1996 issue of Ciao and the anime was first broadcast in 1997. The anime and manga were created simultaneously, but, despite some similarities, they progressed in different directions. A movie, "Adolescence of Utena" (少女革命ウテナ アドゥレセンス黙示録 Shōjo Kakumei Utena Aduresensu Mokushiroku?, literally "Revolutionary Girl Utena Adolescence Apocalypse") was released in theatres in 1999. A number of stage productions based on the franchise were also produced in the mid 1990s, including the "Comedie Musicale Utena la fillette révolutionnaire", staged by an all-female Takarazuka-style cast.
The main character is Utena Tenjou, a tomboyish teenage girl who was so impressed by a kind prince in her childhood that she decided to become a prince herself (expressed in her manner of dress and personality). She attends Ohtori Academy, where she meets a student named Anthy Himemiya, a girl who is in an abusive relationship with another student. Utena fights to protect Anthy and is pulled into a series of sword duels with the members of the Student Council. Anthy is referred to as the "Rose Bride" and is given to the winner of each duel. As Anthy is thought to be the key to a coming revolution, the current champion is constantly challenged for the right to possess the Rose Bride.
While the show generally has the appearance of a magical girl series, it is also highly metaphysical, surreal, and allegorical. It contains a mix of borrowed visuals from Takarazuka theater, shadow puppetry, and classic shōjo manga.
The series is divided into four story arcs, in each of which Utena comes to face a different challenge at Ohtori Academy (Enoki Films calls it "Otori Junior High School"). In all of them, Utena must defend her title as the owner of the Rose Bride, with the intention of protecting Anthy. The duels almost always occur when someone with the Rose Crest ring challenges the current Engaged, though the Engaged may challenge other Duelists as well. No refusal is accepted. The matches occur in the dueling arena, a large, high platform in the academy's outskirts, which is only open to duelists. The Rose Bride pins roses to the Duelists' jackets. They then swordfight, until one duelist wins by knocking away the opponent's rose with his or her blade.
(The story arc names below link to more details than given here as well as the episodes.)
- Student Council Saga (Seitokai Hen)
- Episodes 1 to 13. This first part of the series introduces Utena, Anthy, and most of the main characters. It depicts how Utena ends up winning the Rose Bride, and her initial duels against the Student Council members. They in turn insist for various reasons on fighting in order to defeat Utena and win Anthy in order to gain the power to bring the World Revolution.
- Black Rose Saga (Kurobara Hen)
- Episodes 14 to 24. After repelling the Student Council's attempts to take Anthy, Utena faces another obstacle, Souji Mikage. Disguised as a genius 18-year-old school counselor, he uses his powers of persuasion and knowledge of psychology to put people under his control by coaxing them to confide their deepest hostilities and fears. Almost always, these people are students whose problems stem from conflict with Utena, Anthy, and the Student Council. He then sends them, wearing black Rose Crest rings on their fingers and frozen, black roses on their chests to fight Utena. This arc also introduces Akio Ohtori.
- Akio Ohtori Saga (Ōtori Akio Hen)
- Episodes 25 to 33. After solving the Mikage situation, Utena must fight each Student Council member again. At the same time, she finds herself the target of Akio's seduction. This creates a rift between her and Anthy. This arc is sometimes referred to by fans as the "Akio Car Arc" because each duelist is convinced to challenge Utena during a car ride with Akio.
- End of World Saga (Mokushiroku Hen)
- Episodes 34 to 39. As the conflict escalates, the dark secrets of the duels, and Akio and Anthy's true intentions behind them, are unveiled.
- *Student Council Saga (Seitokai Hen)
-Saionji Vs Utena 1: amitie - Friendship
-Utena Vs. Saionji 2: choix - Choice
-Utena Vs. Miki: raison - Reason (for fighting and/or living)
-Utena Vs. Juri: amour - Love
-Utena Vs. Nanami: adoration - Adoration
-Utena Vs. Touga 1: conviction - Conviction
-Touga Vs. Utena 2: soi - Self
- *Black Rose Saga (Kurobara Hen)
-Utena Vs. Kanae (Black Rose Sword): alieation - Alienation
-Utena Vs. Kozue (Miki's Sword of Heart): attache - Attachment
-Utena Vs. Shiori (Juri's Sword of Heart): jalousis - Jealosy
-Utena Vs. Mitsuru (Nanami's Sword of Heart): impatience - Impatience
-Utena Vs. Wakaba (Saionji's Sword of Heart): limite - Limits
-Utena Vs. Keiko (Touga's Sword of Heart): dependance - Dependance
-Utena Vs. Mikage (Mikage's Sword of Heart): conscience - Conscience
- *Akio Ohtori Saga (Ōtori Akio Hen)
-Utena Vs. Saionji 3: relation - Relations
-Utena Vs. Miki 2: tentation - Temptation
-Utena Vs. Ruka
-Utena Vs. Juri 2
-Utena Vs. Nanami 2
- *End of World Saga (Mokushiroku Hen)
-Utena Vs. Touga 3
-Utena Vs. Akio: revolution - Revolution
- ::Note:: The official material lists the names and affiliated Human conditions of Duels Ruka through Touga 3 as (Friendship, Choice, Friendship, Choice), however, it seems unlikely not only that they'd re-use the old conditions, but twice over right next to each other.::
- Utena Tenjou (天上 ウテナ Tenjō Utena?)
- Utena is a tomboyish, courageous and naïve character who lives to emulate the idealized prince figure from her childhood. She is forthright, honest, and friendly. Nearly all the girls in school idolize her. She both subverts and conforms to the stereotypes she embodies as a noble warrior and a naive magical girl in danger of becoming a damsel in distress. The series chronicles her journey to protect her friend Anthy and become a truly noble Prince. Her Dueling Rose is white.
- Anthy Himemiya (姫宮 アンシー Himemiya Anshī?)
- A mysterious, shy girl whose vapid expression and superficial politeness mask a complex, darker personality. It is said that she has no thoughts or desires of her own; she will do anything her master expects of her. Because of her "doormat" behavior, other characters tend to project their wants or desires onto her, and she's always the target of their eventual rage. Her past and current personality are simultaneously tragic and sinister, and her personality shifts between selfless love, passive-aggressiveness, cruelty, and learned helplessness. Like Utena, Anthy also subverts and conforms to the stereotypes she embodies as both a damsel in distress and a witch.
- Akio Ohtori (鳳 暁生 Ōtori Akio?)
- Anthy's older brother, the acting chairman of the academy, and the closest character to a main antagonist that this series has. Although almost non-present in the first season of the show, he later plays a pivotal role in the second and third seasons. His given name derives from the Japanese name for Venus, the Morning Star, which is identified with Lucifer.
- Juri Arisugawa (有栖川 樹璃 Arisugawa Juri?)
- The captain of the academy's fencing team, Juri is one of Ohtori's most highly respected students, and even the teachers appear to be in awe of her. Her aloof, intimidating manner belies a dark secret. Of the Student Council Duellists, she is thought to be the most noble, and thus the one with the most potential to become a Prince, but her nobility and the strength that comes with it are constantly undermined by her desires and despair. Her Dueling Rose is orange.
- Miki Kaoru (薫 幹 Kaoru Miki?)
- Miki is an ingenuous and polite seventh grader who befriends Utena, despite their role as possible opponents in the duels. He is especially known for his skill with the piano. In spite (or because of) his genius, he is lonely, sheltered, and insecure, and seeks a person who is just as pure and talented as him. In the anime he has a crush on Anthy, whereas in the manga he has a crush on Utena. His Dueling Rose is light blue.
- Touga Kiryuu (桐生 冬芽 Kiryū Tōga?)
- President of the Student Council and Ohtori's resident playboy, Touga is an arrogant and handsome young man whose desire to be powerful drives him to cruel and unscrupulous deeds. He is the only regular Council Member who deliberately involves himself in Akio's plans. Despite his talent and intelligence, Touga eventually realizes that he's nowhere near as influential as Akio or strong as Utena, and this causes him to change his ways as he tries to discover a new method to gain power. His Dueling Rose is red.
- Nanami Kiryuu (桐生 七実 Kiryū Nanami?)
- Touga's dramatic little sister, often used as comic relief throughout the series. Her love for her brother borders on obsession and incest, and she is often seen using devious means to punish the people who take her brother's attentions away from her. Though her motivations are considered the simplest and least ambitious out of all the Duelists, they are no less real to her, and she suffers just as much as all the other Student Council members throughout the series. Her Dueling Rose is yellow.
- Kyouichi Saionji (西園寺 莢一 Saionji Kyōichi?)
- Vice-president of the Student Council and captain of the kendo team. He is temperamental, egotistic, prone to angry rages, and often cruel. His lack of self-control stems from insecurity, a lifelong rivalry against Touga from which he is always at the losing end, and the fear that everyone and everything he knows will eventually die. He is obsessed with Anthy because he views the Rose Bride as a mindless doll who will never disobey him, and thus be with him forever. His Dueling Rose is green.
- Ruka Tsuchiya (土谷 瑠果 Tsuchiya Ruka?)
- A master swordsman, Ruka is the former captain of the fencing team and a former member of the Student Council. His cunning, manipulative behavior belies a hidden desperation to live, and his influence on Juri becomes one of the major turning points for her character. His Dueling Rose is dark blue.
Black Rose Duellists
- Souji Mikage (御影 草時 Mikage Sōji?)
- Mikage is the pink-haired head of the popular Mikage Seminar at Ohtori Academy. He wishes to kill Anthy and install a gravely ill boy, Mamiya, as the Rose Bride in order to save him from terminal illness. Mikage uses manipulation and psychology to control students close to the Council members in order to create a Duelist who can beat Utena.
- Kanae Ohtori (鳳 香苗 Ōtori Kanae?)
- Akio's fiancee, daughter of the school's Trustee Chairman. She has a strained relationship with Anthy, who she finds 'creepy and intolerable'. Though she loves Akio very much, she feels distant from him and becomes the first Black Rose Duelist.
- Kozue Kaoru (薫 梢 Kaoru Kozue?)
- Miki's twin sister, Kozue feels overshadowed by her brother's talents and reacts by sleeping with many different men. She's extremely possessive of Miki to the point where she physically hurts anyone who tries to hurt or "steal" him.
- Shiori Takatsuki (高槻 枝織 Takatsuki Shiori?)
- Shiori is the catalyst for Juri's current broken state of mind. She simultaneously idolizes Juri for her brilliance and despises her for it. Her extreme lack of self-worth is the reason for the rocky relationship between the two, and it reaches a breaking point when Ruka re-enters Ohtori academy.
- Mitsuru Tsuwabuki (石路 美蔓 Tsuwabuki Mitsuru?)
- Nanami's most devoted lackey, a boy in fourth grade. He is obsessed with serving Nanami and wishes to be her adored "brother". He is extremely confused about love, sex, and adulthood in general. His fruitless attempts to experiment makes him a Black Rose Duelist.
- Wakaba Shinohara (篠原 若葉 Shinohara Wakaba?)
- Wakaba is the most outwardly cheerful person in the series and is Utena's best friend, but she feels surrounded by "special" people and doesn't know how to become special herself. She is a co-dependent person who's only happy when she takes care of people because she doesn't feel like she has any other talents.
- Keiko Sonoda (苑田 茎子 Sonoda Keiko?)
- Keiko is one of Nanami's sidekicks, who follow her only because she has a crush on Touga. Her jealousy, though as simple as Nanami's is strong enough for Mikage to take advantage of her mind.
With its plays on such archetypal figures as the Prince, the Princess, or the Witch, and by the literary symbolic role carried out by such plot elements as coffins, thorns, or castles, Utena can be seen as the quintessence of the Postmodernist fairy tale. One important aspect of Revolutionary Girl Utena is that it grabs traditional ideas and perceptions, and twists them around. For example, it is often debated-and indirectly shown, in the series that Anthy and Utena are both the princesses of the prince who is Dios, or Akio, or both. This is in stark contrast to the generally accepted trope that princes have only one princess, whom they unfailingly love and protect. Dios and Akio are both shown to be protective of Utena and Anthy in their own way but are incapable of doing it properly. Dios' self-destructive altruism leads to Anthy's position as the Rose Bride, his existence as a powerless spirit, and the creation of Akio. As for Akio himself, it is debated how much he really cares for Utena or Anthy, but his ambition and lust for power ultimately overrides any love he might have felt for them both.
It should be noted that the series invokes sexual themes quite often (especially in the final arc), some of which are incestuous desire, actual incest, and sexual abuse. While these themes are often important within the narrative, they are usually not directly stated or shown in the series. There is somewhat more explicit sexual imagery in the motion picture, although it is still far from pornographic. The omnipresence of phallic symbols, such as swords, towers, and cars, and the sexual connotation of dewy petaled flowers contributes to the sense of urgent sexuality, repressed and otherwise, in the series.
Another very important and recurrent theme is of gender roles (freely chosen or socially imposed), which play a large part in the series, from its very premise in which Utena wishes to be a prince and not a princess. Sexual desire is portrayed as quite fluid; most characters at least hint at having both same-sex and opposite-sex attractions.
Chief among the romantic relationships in Utena is that between Utena and Anthy. It is subtle in the TV series, but less ambiguous in the movie - the director has a dislike of the strong shipper tendency in fandom and even complained about Sailor Moon's leads' idealized relationship. While Utena (especially in the movie) is boyish, strong, and physically aggressive ("masculine" traits), she is more emotional and innocent than the wearily experienced Anthy.
Much of the series—arguably, in a way the entire series—revolves around the transition between childhood and adulthood, and all that implies, notably development of sexual feelings and identity and the loss of "innocence". Most of the characters are estranged from a loved one in their childhood, something which affects them deeply and arguably stunts them, and this relationship is often complicated or corrupted by a sexual element.
Another theme of Utena is the reinterpretation of classic shōjo manga themes and motifs. Examples may be seen in the failure of "heroic" male characters, Utena's refusal to become a princess (and refusal to sacrifice her femininity in order to become a 'prince'), Anthy's subversion of the demure female role, and various plays on conventions in the genre, such as the transformation of outfits and idealized notions of friendship and love.
The Utena franchise was conceived by BePapas, a production group composed of talents from various corners of the manga and anime universe. Most notably, the 39-episode Revolutionary Girl Utena TV series was created by some of the same production staff responsible for Sailor Moon, including writer and director Kunihiko Ikuhara. Ikuhara was already well known for his role in the production of Sailor Moon, including his contributions to the highly acclaimed third season, Sailor Moon S. When working on Utena Ikuhara was unsure if he would be fit for the role as producer and worried about the financial risk involved. Believing it may be the last show he ever worked on, Ikuhara set out to make Utena the pinnacle of his work. The member of BePapas responsible for the manga version of Utena was Chiho Saito, a well-established shōjo manga author. Though she and the other members of BePapas discussed concepts together, Saito had little influence on the direction of the anime.
Ikuhara did not conceive of the idea for the movie, Adolescence of Utena, until watching the final episodes of the television series on broadcast TV. Once again, BePapas convened to discuss concepts, and Saito would go on to create a manga adaptation of the film. The film can be interpreted either as the end of the story initiated by the TV series, or as a condensed retelling with the same themes and characters, although it goes in a very different direction. Its structure is in many ways parallel to that of the series, but the roles of the leads are subtly switched. If the television series riffs on themes from theater and mythology, it could be said that the movie riffs on themes from the series. Familiarity with the television series is assumed, and the movie version is even more visually bizarre than the original Utena, enough so that it earned the good-natured nickname "The End Of Utena", after the similarly abstract but much less cheerful The End of Evangelion.
Another incarnation of Utena came in the form of a number of one-shot theatrical productions. The Takarazuka-style "Musical Shōjo Kakumei Utena", also known as "Comedie Musicale Utena la fillette révolutionnaire", played in 1997, and the second disc of Shōjo Kakumei Utena OST 5, Engage Toi a Mes Contes, contains many of the songs from this musical. At Animazement '00, Ikuhara was said to be working on a later musical, "Shōjo Kakumei Utena, Makai Tensei Mokushiroku hen, Reijin Nirvana Raiga", with the theatrical group Gesshoku Kageki Dan.
Riyoko Ikeda's The Rose of Versailles has often been quoted as an established source of inspiration for the visual style of Utena, scenes involving sliding mirrors and unsupported staircases appear during character introspections in The Rose of Versailles while in Utena very similar scenes are part of the surreal landscape. Although director Ikuhara has denied this on several occasions, including the director's commentary on the final DVD Finale of the American release. Nevertheless, similarities between the protagonists of The Rose of Versailles and Utena have been drawn by fans and reviewers alike, with Utena and Anthy often compared and contrasted with Oscar François de Jarjayes and Marie Antoinette due to their protector/princess relationship. Oscar and Utena are both feminist warrior-women who defy gender restrictions, have notable fighting skills, and form deep relationships with other women to the point of covert and overt romance. They both go through internal turmoil as they struggle to balance their desires for love with their needs for independence and dedication to their ideals, while other characters try to take their autonomy away from them, and they themselves are confused as to what it means to be women who dress and act like princely men. The two series share themes surrounding freedom, and the nature of human strengths and weaknesses, as well as plot devices revolving around swordfighting and symbolism in which the personalities of major characters are represented by roses. Visual similarities include the school uniforms of Utena and the Student Council, which bear striking similarities to the French military uniforms in Rose of Versailles.
Oniisama e, which, like Rose of Versailles was written by Riyoko Ikeda and directed by Osamu Dezaki, has also been noted as an inspirational source for several thematic elements and visuals. It appears to be the source for several plot facets, characters and themes such as esoteric elitism within a school setting (the Sorority in Oniisama and the Student Council in Utena), bullying through verbal harassment and slapping, a controlling and deceiving authority, motifs such as that of a tree under which characters sometime meet, problems between friends when one of them is recruited into an elite and exclusive circle (Misonoo and Tomoko's friendship compared to Utena and Wakaba's), use of a piece of jewelry to symbolize and control obsessive lesbian feelings (Saint-Just's gold bracelet represents her passionate feelings for Fukikio while Juri's gold rose-embossed locket holds her picture/feelings for Shirori), ambiguous incestuous relations, musical pieces having intensely private and sentimental value, and existential themes such as the meaning of life if all people eventually die. Among others, the visual inspirations from Oniisama include architecture, hairstyles, and scenes involving roses such as a scene where petals overflow along with sheets of water from Fukiko's bathtub in Oniisama e and a scene in the Utena movie where roses and water overflow from an outcropping while Utena and Anthy dance.
Osamu Tezuka's Ribon no Kishi (the story of a young princess cross-dressing as a knight) and Kanashimi no Belladonna may be other inspirations. During the duel preparation sequences, Utena's outfit changes slightly in a transformation sequence, a common trait of the magical girl genre, and one which Ikuhara himself used profusely in Sailor Moon.
The music for the Student Council is strongly reminiscent of the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor by Johann Sebastian Bach, and the Student Council's oath appears to be paraphrased from Hermann Hesse's Demian.Empty citation (help)
Ikuhara cites prolific playwright, poet, and director Shuji Terayama as a major influence. Terayama was a long time collaborator with J.A. Seazer, who wrote the music for his plays. Ikuhara worked with Seazer for the most well known music of Utena.
Ikuhara stated that the concept for Revolutionary Girl Utena came from his 'End of The World' themed Sailor Moon SuperS: The Movie. Ikuhara's original ideas for the film were not used as he left prematurely following the producer.
The dominant motif of the entire series is the rose, which fills the decor and landscape of the Academy as well as the ritual accoutrements of the Duelists. Highly stylized, they are reminiscent of Charles Rennie Mackintosh's work.
Another motif is the use of elevators, which are used as places of transition or transformation. These include the Council's elevator, the one found in Nemuro Hall (scene of the confessions in the Black Rose arc), and the one found in the final version of the dueling arena.
Cars may be considered one of the most oblique motifs seen in the series. In the anime, they appear in the third version of the dueling arena. In the final act of the movie, Utena is transformed into a car.
Repeated use of animated sequences can be seen in almost every episode, most noticeably Utena's entrance to the dueling arena. While this is usually seen in anime as a practical consideration to reduce production costs, it may also be used to reinforce certain themes.
Utena also takes the typically shōjo manga poses and dramatic effects intended to heighten the mood or tension of important scenes and exaggerates them, often to the point of being deliberately comedic. Examples include characters framed with spinning roses, or a dramatic scene accentuated with a baseball match in the background.
The colour red is used liberally throughout the series to symbolise the ambition of the characters.
The manga Revolutionary Girl Utena was written by Be-Papas and illustrated by Chiho Saito. It began serialization in the June 1996 issue of the monthly manga magazine Ciao. The manga ended in 1997 with five volumes being released. The manga was licensed for an English-language release in North America by Viz Media in 2000 and was serialized Viz's magazine Animerica Extra and later published into five trade paperbacks, with an additional volume for the film adaptation.
The anime series of Revolutionary Girl Utena was produced by the Japanese animation studio J.C.Staff and directed by Kunihiko Ikuhara. The series aired between April 2, 1997 and December 24, 1997 on TV Tokyo in Japan and spanned thirty nine episodes.
Enoki Films holds the American license to the anime and called the series Ursula's Kiss, and gave each character English names. However the American distributor, Central Park Media, chose to use the original title and character names. The dubbed and subbed versions were released to VHS in 1998 by Software Sculptors. There were a total of four releases each containing either three or four episodes. These same episodes were released to two bilingual DVD volumes in 1999 with six or seven episodes each. These DVDs were known as the Rose Collection. However after releasing the first thirteen episodes to VHS and DVD, Central Park Media had difficulties licensing the remaining twenty-six episodes and the dub was put on hiatus despite that the VHS Tapes and DVDs were selling well. After settling all legal issues, Software Sculptors released the remaining twenty-six episodes of the anime series to bilingual DVDs in 2002 and 2003, but these releases didn't sell as well as the previous ones. The entire series was later sold in the form of three DVD box sets.
With the complete shutdown of Central Park Media and Software Sculptors in 2008, the distribution rights to the series were put up for liquidation. At Anime Expo 2010, The Right Stuf International announced that they have rescued the Utena TV series and will re-release the series in three part remastered packs in 2011.
Airing outside Japan
Hawaii-based TV station KIKU aired the Central Park Media licensed version of the series during the January/March and July/August periods of 2007. FUNimation had previously acquired broadcast rights for Revolutionary Girl Utena from Central Park Media in 2006, and played it in their channel, FUNimation Channel, multiple times. Comcast's Anime Selects on Demand also showed episodes of the first and second season for a brief period. It also aired on SciFi Channel for a short period. Anime Network on Demand began airing the series on August 6, 2009.
Musical - Shōjo Kakumei Utena (ミュージカル・少女革命ウテナ?)
- Dates and Location
- Dec 17 - Dec 29, 1997 Hakuhinkan Theater, Tokyo
- Utena Tenjou: Yu Daiki (大輝ゆう?)
- Anthy Himemiya: KaNNa
- Touga Kiryuu: Rei Saito (斉藤レイ?)
- Juri Arisugawa: Sanae Kimura (木村早苗?)
Shōjo Kakumei Utena Hell Rebirth Apocalypse: Advent of the Nirvanic Beauty (少女革命ウテナ魔界転生黙示録編～麗人ニルヴァーナ来駕～?)
- Production Company
- Gesshoku Kagekidan
- Dates and Location
- May 26 - June 1, 1999 Zamza Asagaya Theater, Tokyo
- Utena Tenjou: Megumi Ichinose (一ノ瀬めぐみ?)
- Anthy Himemiya: Kazuyo Noguchi (野口員代?)
- Touga Kiryuu: Rei Saito (斉藤レイ?)
- Nanami Kiryuu: Chieko Misaka (三坂知絵子?)
Shōjo Kakumei Utena: Choros Imaginary Living Body (少女革命ウテナ～コロス幻想生命体～?)
- Production Company
- Fantasy Adventure
- Dates and Location
- September 30 - October 1, 2000 Amasaki Piccolo Theater Center Hall, Hyōgo
- Utena Tenjou: Mayu Watari (亘まゆ?)
- Anthy Himemiya: Aki Kaai (可愛あき?)
- Touga Kiryuu: Kazuki Aoi (葵かずき?)
- Juri Arisugawa: Shinobu Kiryu (桐生忍?)
Shōjo Kakumei Utena: Itsuka Kakumeisareru Monogatari (少女革命ウテナ いつか革命される物語) was developed and published By Sega for the Sega Saturn video game console, it was released in 1998 in Japan. It tells an original story which is set between episodes 8 and 9 of the TV series. The main character of the game is an original character (no default name, voice: Kaoru Fujino (藤野かほる?)) who transfers to Ohtori Academy.
The game is in the style of a visual novel with strong dating sim elements. The major characters each possess a statistic called "Heart's Nobility" which the player affects though dialog choices that appear sporadically during play. Each character's level of Heart's Nobility determines how the game will end. The special endings available for characters that end with particularly high Heart's Nobility represent the game's dating sim element, but because it is set within the larger plot of the TV series the relationships are usually somewhat platonic, or one-sided affections on the part of the main character. Yet, there are many aspects of the game that make it interesting to fans, such as duels between Student Council members and the opportunity to turn the main character into a duelist.
Adolescence of Utena was released in theatres in 1999. It was first conceived by director Kunihiko Ikuhara when the final episode of the television series was broadcast on Japanese television. BePapas reconvened and created a new vision of the Utena universe. The resulting film is ambiguous in its place within the Utena universe; though it functions as a separate continuity, much like the manga, it also refers to events in the television series frequently enough that it is confusing to those unfamiliar with the show. Ultimately, the film is plotted in such a way that it could be seen as a continuation of the series or an entirely new vision. Central Park Media licensed Adolescence of Utena and released it to a dubbed only VHS and a bilingual DVD in 2001 under the title, Utena: The Movie. Right Stuf acquired the North American rights to the movie in 2010.
In a loose retelling of the Revolutionary Girl Utena TV series, Utena Tenjou arrives at Ohtori Academy, appearing to be a boy. She is accidentally swept up in a series of duels for the possession of the Rose Bride Anthy Himemiya and the power she supposedly holds. At the same time, Utena reunites with Touga Kiryuu, a friend and love from her childhood. It is later revealed that Touga died long ago. A belief among some fans is that the movie takes place in the land of the dead. Other key differences between the series and film include the absence of Nanami (save for a brief cameo in her cow incarnation) and the revelation that Akio is also dead before the film begins.
The film takes many themes from the series and either ramps up their intensity or turns them on an ear. For example, the latent sexual tension between Utena and Anthy in the series is far more overt in the film; it is made clear to the viewer that Anthy is not only a "bride" by name, but that she will sleep with the person to whom she is engaged, regardless of whether they are male or female, including her brother. The concept of Ohtori as a prison is made clearer, and Utena's empowerment of Anthy to escape is given physical manifestation as Utena literally transforms into a car for Anthy to ride to freedom.
The series' musical score, by J.A. Seazer, is one of the show's most memorable features. Utena's signature song is "Zettai Unmei Mokushiroku" (Absolute Destiny Apocalypse), which plays every time Utena makes her way to the dueling arena. This song, along with those played during the duels, is composed in a choral rock style. The texture of the chorus is primarily monophonic, although there is some homophony within the inner voices of the chorus. The melody of the chorus is written in transposed Aeolian mode or natural minor. It's also interesting to say that the melody does not use a major five chord at the cadence which is usually the norm for minor mode; it uses a minor five chord instead. The lyrics that often appear to be little more than themed words strung together. While the show's creative team hasn't offered any official explanations of the lyrics, some fan websites suggest interpretations.
The non-vocal background music was composed by Shinkichi Mitsumune, and is largely orchestral in character, though it often features significant jazz influences. One notable song is "The Sunlit Garden," a recurring duet piano piece which plays during nostalgic scenes. Its ubiquity in the series makes it iconic in its own right. Mitsumune also handled the arrangement of the first eight duel choruses.
The soundtrack of Adolescence of Utena is similar in style to the series, containing a mixture of orchestral pieces and choral rock. Masami Okui's track, the J-pop ballad "Toki ni Ai wa" (At Times Love is...), is atypical of the series' sound, although it enjoys considerable popularity among fans.
Script error Revolutionary Girl Utena won "Best TV Animation Award" at Animation Kobe in 1997. In 2000 Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Movie won a Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation Award in the category of "Best Film, Japanese Release".
- Clements, J. and H. McCarthy. The Anime Encyclopedia: A Guide to Japanese Animation Since 1917. New York: Stone Bridge Press (2001)
- Lyons, Michelle. Revolutionary Girl Utena: Book 1. Guardians of Order (2004)
- Enoki Films website
- Revolutionary Girl Utena (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- The Adolescence of Utena (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Anime News Network review of the movie
- Animerica reviewca:Shōjo Kakumei Utena
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